Wednesday, September 26, 2007

a pause for life

Well, my chemo weekend was about what they've been - didn't feel well, slept a lot, ate little, and was back to just about normal by Monday.

With the exception of hot tubs, massages, and vitamins, I am restriction-free :)

Yesterday, I rode my bike to get my bloodwork done. It was about 7 miles round trip, and my legs were pretty cranky by the time I got back, but it felt fabulous to get out and ride, and it was an absolutely beautiful morning - perfect for biking.

My hair is growing back in. It's still thinner than normal, but it's definitely more than what it was a month ago.

I am getting the PICC put back in on Oct 17 and have chemo again on Oct 18 - a pause in the action so I can attend my sister's wedding. (Then after that one, only two more - we're in the home stretch!)

I don't anticipate having any cancer-related news before then, so if you're checking in to see what's going on, and there's nothing going on, well, that's a good thing :)

That's all the news from here. Hopefully signing off for a few weeks - I am already enjoying the break!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

the PICC is out!!!

Just a little celebratory post to share that the PICC line is officially gone, at least for a while. I'm still covered in tape, but the hole should heal within 24 hours. (If not, I need to keep it covered until it heals, as it's a direct line to the heart, apparently, and we don't want shit in there.)

Yaye for having my arm back :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

back to where I started: the PCP

I called my PCP (Dr. PCP) today to make an appointment about my butt. Suffice to say, it's having some issues. Well, she doesn't have an appointment available until October 1; my butt won't wait that long. They could give me an appointment with another doc a week from Thursday. Anything this week? Well, another doc had a cancellation at 11:30 (phone call at 10:30), if you can make it then. OK. So I went. When I checked in, I asked if Dr. PCP happened to have any cancellations. Nope, sorry. OK. Bummer, but OK.

Well, when the nurse took me in, she said I would see Dr. PCP! Yaye! Apparently, she and the other doc switched their 11:30 appointments. She came in and we sat and talked for quite some time. Including a little inspection, we were there for probably half an hour or so. Unlike what I had thought was happening, she wasn't being kept up-to-date from the hospital on what was going on with me. She had results of the scans and tests, but that was all!! So she wanted to know what was going on and said she had called once but no one was home. I told her that if she ever did that to please leave a message and I'd be glad to call her back. She said that when she leaves messages, she tends to get panicked return calls. I told her no worries, please leave a message.

I gave her the long brief version of my cancer tale. (Really, I could talk about all the stuff that has happened for hours, easily.) She gave me a prescription, and I left.

Somewhere in there, I thanked her for sending me for an X-ray, even though it was "just in case." Who knows what would have happened if she had kind of blown it off... Two of the three people who I talk to at all regularly are in the boat they're in because a doctor blew them off. I am grateful not to be there.

Friday, September 14, 2007

starting to feel refreshed

I have, for the most part, come to accept the upcoming chemo treatments.

In the meantime, I'm kind of excited about having a break. I have chemo on Thursday, but since it'll be my last one for just about a month and the last one before I travel, I'll get my PICC out Thursday, too! Woo-hoo!!!! I am VERY excited about that. You can be sure that as soon as the chemo-crap days are over, I'll be back into full exercise mode. I can't wait!!

Then, when I get back, the PICC will only be in for about four weeks: they'll put it in just before a treatment, then two weeks to tmt2, then two more weeks to the LAST TREATMENT and then it comes back out :)

It will be nice to give my body a little rest from the chemo, too. I'm hoping that the little rest will enable more side-effect-less treatments for the end.

And with the timing of things ending, I won't have more than a week of radiation before Christmas, which means I should still feel good. And the break in between both means I'll be off all treatments during most of gig season.

I was considering changing travel plans or traveling on a chemo weekend to move the end up two weeks, but I think I've decided that it's only two weeks, and having those two weeks in the late-middle instead of off the end might be nice. A seventh inning stretch, if you will.

I think my hair is starting to grow back in. I'm getting it trimmed tomorrow and will know for sure then, but it looks darker to me.

Ahhhh... it feels good to be starting to be at ease with what's going on.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

word from the doc

(This is a copy-paste from today's e-mail)

I went in to see the doctor today to find out what the @#!% is going on.

He said that the radiologist recommended more chemo and that he himself agrees. He said it's precautionary at this point, but since I had a large mass, more is better, since we want the best possible outcome.

I asked if we didn't want the best possible outcome a month ago?

He said yes, we did, and he thought that maybe less would be OK but has decided against it. He said that there are never less than 4 cycles (2 treatments per cycle) but after that, it's grey. This means, of course, that when he told me in July that I had two more treatments (1 cycle) and I was done that he was wrong wrong wrong, as those two treatments were #5 and 6 (cycle #3).

He said that I could say no, take my chances on the radiation, and go from there.

He said that more chemo means less radiation, which is exactly the opposite of what the radiologist told me on Tuesday. When I mentioned that, he said that perhaps he had misunderstood.

Six cycles (12 treatments) is the max, so he won't have the opportunity to change it again, which makes it easier to believe this time.

I learned today that if my periods never come back that it's not just a cessation of menstruation, but it does induce early menopause (in six months to a year). This is slightly disconcerting because being pre-menopausal has lots of health benefits.

So the plan, now finalized, is four more treatments, a month off, some radiation and done. And actually hope to have periods again. How disappointing.

I have chemo #9 next week. Chemo #10 will be two weeks delayed (unless I decided to change my plane ticket for the trip back east, or to travel on a post-chemo weekend, neither of which is likely, though either would move everything else back two weeks which would be really nice...), which makes chemo #11 on November 1, and chemo #12, the final chemo, on November 15, one week before Thanksgiving. I won't know details about radiation until it gets much closer.

I will have my PICC taken out after the next chemo (YAYE!!!!!!!!!!) and have it put back in for the last three, after returning from NJ.

Here's to hoping that the treatments are effective, but only in their intended effect, and that the side effects in the mean time remain minimal.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

more chemo on the way...

(This is a copy-paste of today's e-mail update)

I recently got word that I am scheduled for 4 more treatments of chemotherpy. At one every two weeks, with a break for my trip back east, that'll take me up to the week before Thanksgiving.

So much for getting radiation for my birthday.

I am not at all psychologically/emotionally ready to deal with two more months of this. If I hadn't been told in JULY that I was just shy of being finished, it might be less difficult. But it is what it is and those are the cards I'm stuck with.

Reason given: I'm responding well. My interpretation: I'm being punished for not being horrendously sick.

I'm sure that at some point, I'll rediscover optimism and positiveness, but it ain't here right now.

Extra support would be amazingly fabulously appreciated.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

more details

i had an appointment with dr. radiology today. he and dr. oncology should be talking tomorrow. i am supposed to call dr. oncology tomorrow to find out what they decide.

i told dr. radiology i'm ready to move on, mentioned that i've had two complete cycles (4 treatments) since my negative scan...

things i learned today:

if i have more chemo, it'll be four *more* treatments. because of my travel schedule, that takes us to a week before thanksgiving. i'm not mentally or emotionally prepared for this to go on that much longer.

more chemo will have no bearing on how much radiation i get.

dr. radiology does not feel that another pet scan is necessary. i told him i didn't care if i had one or not.

he has seen tumors that literally doubled in size overnight. *yikes!*

the problems with the heart and arteries, as a side effect of radiation, are not common, and keeping my LDL low is the best thing i can do for preventative maintenance.

the last three weeks, i haven't been sleeping so well. this is from the chemo (surprise), and i can take a benadryl at night, if i want, to help me sleep.

also, in roughly the same time frame, my vision has been funky. it's blurry sometimes. i learned today that this is also a side effect of the chemo and it will go away eventually.

that's all i know. i am assuming i will find out the verdict on chemo versus done tomorrow. keeping everything crossed that crosses.....

Monday, September 10, 2007

funny card

I got a funny card in the mail today:

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

But when life hands you a load of crap, don't make anything.


Friday, September 7, 2007

soap box

While I have not had all of these vices, I cannot imagine any that are worth this.

I am friends with a couple of people who smoke.

I know lots of people who are varying degrees of overweight.

I am friends with people who "need" to have a nice tan in the summer ... one of whom had a suspcious but not cancerous mole removed.

It's not worth it.

The treatments for lung (smoking), esophagal (smoking), pancreatic (overweight) and some breast (overweight) cancers are not nearly as user-friendly as mine, from what I've seen and heard. Pancreatic cancer is still more or less a death sentence. The others can be treated and sometimes cured.

Melanoma, if caught early, isn't too bad from what I've heard, but it is also a "gateway cancer," making the recipient susceptible to lymphoma, which is the general type of what I have.

Let me tell ya, people, it ain't worth it. Take care of your body. It's the only one you get. When it doesn't work right any more, it affects not only you, but everyone around you. And I assure you that the effects it has on you won't make the people around you jealous (I don't think — anyone jealous?).

I asked the doctor what lifestyle components would be wise for me. He said that there are no causal connections between lifestyle and my particular kind of cancer (there are other connections), but less or no red meat and stay in shape are generally a good idea to stay away from the cancer bus. That was all he said.

Of course, there's no guarantee, but why up the risk if you don't need to?